Saturday, November 03, 2012

Marion County (X35), Dunnellon, Florida: No whooping crane fly-by at airport this year

Two of Operation Migration's Ultralight aircraft are currently leading six endangered whooping crane chicks from Wisconsin to Florida to teach them to migrate, but there will be no flyover at the Marion County/Dunnellon Airport as in previous years.

This year's migration will end with all the birds at the St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge in Florida's Big Bend.

This is the 12th year Operation Migration pilots are leading a new flock of juvenile whoopers south. In earlier years, they would fly the birds over Dunnellon to give the public a glimpse of the rare and endangered birds before finally settling them down at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River for the winter. In spring, the young birds fly north on their own.

This is the second year the birds will be missed at Dunnellon. Last year's migration ended in Alabama. Although it is not known exactly why, it is believed the bad weather that caused many no-fly days and the time needed to resolve a Federal Aviation Administration complaint, or even possibly the abundance of food, may have resulted in the birds' unwillingness to fly further than Alabama.

But this year there is another reason the birds will not be shepherded to Chassahowitzka. There are just too few of them.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a consortium of government and private agencies from Canada and the United States, is working to create a second, eastern, migrating flock of the endangered cranes to ensure the survival of the species in the event the only existing wild migrating flock, which flies from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, should become diseased or die off.

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Plane makes emergency landing after 'bird strike'

BHUBANESWAR: A New Delhi-bound flight landed within a few minutes of taking off from Biju Patnaik Airport here on Friday. While airport authorities described it as a "technical snag", passengers on board the flight said a bird hit had forced the plane to make an emergency landing.

"The flight took off well, but within a few minutes there was a jerk and the flight landed back. All the passengers were adjusted in other flights," said Jairam Rana, a passenger. But an airport official said, "We had to cancel the flight due to a technical snag." He, however, admitted that bird-hit cases are rampant at the airport and caused regular disruption of flights.

According to airport sources, around 22 cases of bird hits were reported at the city airport till October 31. But the actual number is more as not all the cases are reported unless they are serious, the sources added.

Airport director Sarad Kumar, who is in Mumbai, told TOI over phone: "We have written to the chief secretary, BMC authorities and forest officials about this menace. Everyone promised to help but no action was taken. Animal waste being dumped in and around the airport causes severe problem for operation of flights. Some strong action has to be taken in this regard by the civic authorites."

On Saturday, a truck load of animal waste was dumped near the airport boundary near Dumduma attracting large number of vultures. Following complaints from local residents, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials went for a spot verification and said they will issue a notice to the offender.

Though Airport Authority of India (AAI) guidelines stipulates that an area of 10km from runways should be free from any kind of dumping garbage, and meat and chicken shops, the guidelines are flouted in the case of Biju Patnaik Airport.

"Dumping of animal wastes in the locality is not new, but no steps are being taken against violators. I have filed a police complaint and written to all higher authorities but no one is listening. Due to these vultures, a major aviation accident is waiting to happen," said Md Azeemuddin, a resident of Dumduma area.

Airport officials, however, maintained that they were trying their best to avoid the eventuality of a major mishap. "We use crackers to scare away the birds. We have also appointed bird chasers who keep on moving at the airport to chase away birds during take-offs and landings," said H J Parmar, AGM, airport traffic. "Thanks to these measures, no big incident due to bird hit has occurred at the city airport in the last one year," Parmar added.

With the Centre assuring chief minister Naveen Patnaik to upgrade the city airport into an international airport, the state government had issued a directive to the civic and the airport authorities to ensure that there was no bird menace in the aerodrome area. "It has been decided to make airport buildings pigeon free. The slaughter houses around the aerodrome will be shifted to new locations," said mayor A N Jena.

In a severe blow to the city's air connectivity, Air India has decided to stop plying its two flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Kolkata and Chennai from Monday. The bad news comes just ahead of the onset of the peak tourist season. The national carrier issued a circular to all passenger sales agents on November 1 mentioning Air India flight AI-768 / 770 (Kolkata- Bhubaneswar- Kolkata) stands withdrawn with effect from November 5 till further notice. 


Obituary: Gale Brownlee

Gale Brownlee, a lifelong resident of Woodstock, died October 25, at the Kingston Hospital. Having survived surgery after a fall, complications arose that even she could not master. 

Gale was born in the Benedictine Hospital; delivered by her grandfather, Woodstock’s beloved “Horse and Buggy” Doctor Mortimer B. Downer. Her mother was Gladys Downer Feeley and her father, John J. Feeley. She Attended Woodstock Elementary School and graduated from Kingston High School in 1944. There she was soloist for the A Cappella Choir and won a scholarship to Julliard School of Music. Although she declined to use the award, she never lost her love of classical music, opera and theater — an interest she passed on to her younger siblings. She was also a drum majorette with the high school band and then taught others twirling and strutting.

After high school Gale went to New York in search of a career. She found many: waitressing, then hat check girl/photographer in the clubs El Morocco, The Latin Quarter, The Stork Club, The Blue Angel. During World War II she joined a U.S.O. group entertaining our troops in shows. Strikingly beautiful, she turned to a modeling career; first for the garment district, then a wedding gown house where she eventually became a designer with her own label. She moved on to becoming a professional photographer’s model, walked the runways in fashion shows and appeared in television ads. Fashion was an interest of hers for life and it also left her with the notion “one can never be too thin.” She met D.J. Brown at his beauty salon in the Plaza Hotel and they fell in love. They had a daughter together, Ardis (Pyxe) Brown, her only child.

When Gale moved back to Woodstock her life changed dramatically. One ride in a single engine plane was the beginning of her great love of flying and of her true career. Within a short period of time she received her commercial license. She became a charter pilot and an instructor and flew fire watches all over Overlook Mountain and beyond. She joined the women’s pilots organization club, the 99s, participated the Powder Puff Derbies in races, and once ferried a plane as co-pilot to Nairobi, Africa. She won a contest for helicopter flying and became a member of The Whirley Girls and flew helicopters as well. To enhance her income she also turned to real estate and became a real estate associate broker. She was very successfully in this capacity, unfailingly honest and won many of the company’s highest awards.

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Piper PA-24-260 Comanche, N7082H: Fargo, North Dakota, aircraft owner suing area adventure-seeking group after plane crash

Victor Gelking, a Fargo pilot and flight instructor, is suing six adventure seekers to try to recover the loss of his $95,000 airplane after they crashed it in Wisconsin. He said the group grossly overloaded the 1970 Piper Turbo Comanche that day despite his warnings, causing it to crash.

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IN PICTURES: Hurricane Sandy damage at Sky Manor Airport (N40), Pittstown, New Jersey

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Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island: Coast Guard investigating hoax distress calls


Published on November 2, 2012 by WPRI 

The United States Coast Guard says it's investigating possible hoax distress calls made near Narragansett Bay that prompted four fruitless hours of searching.

Georgia: Helicopter crew trims power lines

 Henrick Bjorklund inspects the helicopter as Joe West, in the background, checks the saws, to make sure everything is OK to take off again.

The 10 spinning saw blades suspended from a red helicopter hovering over a tree line a couple of hundred feet in the air easily strike through the limbs and branches in their path.

Henrik Bjorklund, a Swedish pilot in the United States on a work visa, mans the copter and the 25-foot saw that goes with it, working hours each day along with ground supervisor Joe West, who performs light maintenance on all the machinery every hour or so. In the two weeks the Rotor Blade employees were in Whitfield County and surrounding areas, they’ll have cleared thousands of feet around power lines belonging to North Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

“What he can do in about an hour would take a climbing crew of eight or 10 people (including support personnel) about a week,” said Randy Skidmore, director of power supply and vegetation management for NGEMC. “Climbing is the most expensive thing we do because it takes so long.”

Bjorklund estimated the helicopter saw can clear about one mile of tree lines in an hour, depending on conditions.

The aircraft can hold up to 62.2 gallons of fuel, but because of how the fuel weight shifts in the air, it is typically filled up only to about 35 gallons, he said. The helicopter lands usually about every 45 minutes to one hour.

Bjorklund, a Florida resident, said he came to the United States about six years ago to enroll in what is now Bristow Academy for about 14 months of training. He went from having never been in a helicopter to becoming a certified instructor during that time, he said.

Bjorklund said he originally planned to stay in the U.S. for two years, but the work was good and the job offers kept coming. An employer who didn’t want to lose him sponsored a work visa, he said, and two years slowly turned into six.

For sure, the job has its downsides. Bjorklund jokes about how necessary it is to keep around important supplies to maintain the copter and himself — things like coffee and Red Bull energy drink that keep him focused during long hours in the air. Even with breaks, he said he sometimes has very little interaction with other people, especially if he’s working a job in an isolated area.

The travel perks are pretty amazing though. Bjorklund said he’s worked all over the southern half of the U.S. from coast to coast. Sometimes he works with West, sometimes with another ground supervisor. Both men work three weeks on for seven straight days, then three weeks off.

In addition to tree-trimming, they do other tasks like hanging power lines, as needed. Is the work mentally demanding?

“Yeah,” Bjorklund said. “Hence, the Red Bull.”

West lives in South Carolina and is working on obtaining his pilot’s license. Among his many jobs is finding landing zones for the helicopter and doing public relations work with people in the areas where they trim. Earlier this week, West had his pilot land in an empty yard in front of a church building off of Reed Road.

He said the helicopter and saw need a plot of several dozen feet to land. The saw blades are attached to the helicopter by an 80-foot pole constructed of 3-inch aluminum pipe with a safety cable in the center. When the pilot works close to roads or other areas where people are present, West works to maintain a safe distance between them and the saw blades.

Skidmore said this is the third year the power company has used a chopper crew to trim trees. He said the trimming should last for several years.